Copperhead and timber rattlesnake sightings increase in WAVE Country

Copperhead and timber rattlesnake sightings increase in WAVE Country

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Don't move, just let it slither away; that's the advice from experts as we get more reports of venomous snake sightings in WAVE Country in copperheads and timber rattlesnakes.

Experts say the best way to avoid getting bitten by a venomous snake is to watch where you are stepping.

Tread lightly and alertly down hiking paths, says Louisville Zoo Reptiles Curator Bill McMahan. McMahan says stepping on snake is the reason most people get bitten. It's easy to see how it can happen as they blend so seamlessly into the woods.

It happened to experienced hiker, Denise Griffis, three weeks ago in Jefferson Memorial Forest. She was bitten by a copperhead.

"I did not see it, I just didn't see it," Griffis said. "Really within about four minutes, I was rendered useless. I could not walk anymore."

Luckily, her husband and others were there to help. Still swollen but doing well, she recommends hiking boots. She says, by chance that day, she was wearing hiking sandals.

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Timber rattlesnakes and copperheads are the most common venomous snakes in Kentucky, according to McMahan. He says although more pictures of the two venomous snakes are popping up on social media from sightings in Bernheim Forest to Brown County Indiana, he believes it's only because it's summer when snakes are out and more people are posting photos.

"Most people never see a snake outdoors," McMahan explained. "And when somebody sees one or two or three, to them it might seem like incredible numbers."

As for claims that there are more copperheads because there are more cicadas this year?

"There are season rhythms to when some of these animals feed," McMahan said. "And there are snakes like copperheads that do feed on cicadas, but that's sort of a short seasonal pulse."

While the majority of copperhead victims bounce back after treatment, a rattlesnake bite is much more dangerous and anti-venom treatments are costly. McMahan says the best thing to have on hand if you do get bitten by a venomous snake is car keys, to drive to the hospital.

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